Saturday, April 25, 2015

Rockstar Pina Colada


At first I thought Pina Colada is a very odd flavor for an energy drink, but then I remembered we are still sort of going through the whole coconut water craze...OK, maybe we are at the tail end of it.

For those who don't know, Pina Colada is a rum based cocktail with pineapple and coconut. Remove the rum and you have a fancy, tropical mix of flavors.

Taste

If you ever had or seen a Pina Colada and wondering what the energy drink version of it looks like, then I have answer for you - it looks exactly the same in terms of color and consistency...ok, maybe without the light golden hue from the rum.

As expected, the aroma is a blend of pineapple and coconut. Both are equally bold. The taste is a slight departure from the aroma. It starts off with a peppery mint mixed with a subtle coconut flavor, which gives way to the pineapple flavors...and more mint. The finish is minty with semi-sweet, very subtle pineapple flavor and a long-lingering coconut note. Not going to lie - most refreshing aftertaste ever.

OK, the whole minty flavor/sensation is interesting and not sure what to make out of it. I love the long-lasting mint aftertaste. I love the chilling sensation, but I totally wasn't expecting this with something that is supposed to taste like Pina Colada.

After staring at the can design for a few moments, I noticed that the background is the same as the Rockstar Lime-Freeze I had a few weeks ago, which has mint added to it to give you a chilling sensation. I wonder if the Pina Colada is supposed to be part of the same "chilling" line up, because that would easily explain the mint. But then again, why make a Pina Colada minty?

Energy

There are 160 mg of caffeine in the can and plenty of sugar to give you a jittery initial kick. The effects can be felt within 10-15 minutes and they are sugary...and jittery, but I already said that. The rest of the effects are like any other Rockstar - caffeine boost comes in 20-25 minute later when the jitters die down a bit and you feel like a badass mo-fo for the next 3 or so hours...and then like a little child when the crash comes.

Scores:
Cost - $3.19
Taste - 7.5/10???
Energy - 8/10

Overall - 15.5/20...still a little lost on this one

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hello Hungry - the Essential Liquid Meal Launches on Indiegogo


I don't normally put out press releases or blog about product launches before I get to try them, but something very interesting came across my mailbox today - Hello Hungry.

Hello Hungry is marketed as a liquid meal made for the modern office. This may not be for everyone, but I can relate to the product in several ways - one, I work in an office; two, my day is sometimes jammed with meetings and I don't get to sneak out for a meal until very late or at all; three, I love efficiency; and four, I love savory drinks.

I love savory drinks so much that one of the first things I do when I get back home from work is to have a glass of tomato juice or a Hot & Spicy V8 if I have any left.

Check out the press release here, and the Indiegogo campaign here.

I, for one, hope these guys reach their goal and release this product on the market. I am definitely looking forward to trying it.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mountain Dew Kickstart Hydrating Boost Review


Mountain Dew just recently added a couple of new products to their Kickstart line-up which feature coconut water as one of the main ingredients. I guess the coconut craze is still going on. Because of the coconut water, the new Kickstart drinks had their name expanded by the addition of the words "Hydrating Boost"...since you know, coconut water is supposed to hydrating.

I got a couple of each of the flavors for $1 from a WalMart near Buffalo. These are not currently sold in Canada, but I think they might make their way across the border soon. I recently started seeing the regular Mountain Dew Kickstart energy drinks for sale here, so it is only a matter of time before the slightly more "healthier" version comes over.

Strawberry Kiwi

The Strawberry Kiwi flavor comes with a pink/orange color and a very Mountain Dew sweet soda-like aroma with subtle hints of strawberries, kiwis and your standard Mountain Dew citrus twist. The taste is very similar but more watery than expected. It starts off with a light and creamy strawberry note mixed with a bit of regular Mountain Dew, which gives the flavor a citrus boost. The kiwi doesn't come until the finish, but it lingers well into the aftertaste, which is on the sweeter side thanks to the overall sweet soda-like character of Mountain Dew. The sweetness does build up over time and when you stop drinking, your mouth becomes dry and sticky.

There are no trace coconut notes from the added coconut water.

Be aware that there is an artificial sweetener flavor present all throughout and well into the aftertaste. After all, there are only 60 calories in the can and 14 grams of sugar.

Taste - 6.8/10

Pineapple Orange Mango

What surprises me about this drink is that all three of the flavors on the label are present in the aroma. The mango is definitely the dominant note in the aroma, but the pineapple is also present, providing a sweet base for the nose, while the orange gives it all a nice citrusy twist.

The taste starts off like your average Mountain Dew - high carbonation with a distinct citrus blend. After the Mountain Dew, the flavor profile opens up a little and subdued mix of mango and pineapple flavors appear. I say subdued, because unlike the aroma where the flavors felt bold, the taste lacks this boldness and appears a little watery like with the Strawberry Kiwi.

The orange comes right at the end to give the flavor a more distinct twist and lingers well into the aftertaste along with the remnants of a mild mango note. The added sweetener also appears in the aftertaste and lingers for a long time.

I found this flavor to be slightly better than the Strawberry Kiwi one, but not by much. Both have great aromas, but are on the watery side in terms of flavor.

Energy

Both cans contain only 68 mg of caffeine, which looks like less than the original Kickstart energy drinks, but it actually is the same ratio of caffeine to liquid volume (and yes, less caffeine overall, but it is a smaller package). These new Hydrating Boost energy drinks contain 355 mL of liquid which results in a 0.19 mg of caffeine/mL volume ratio. The older cans of Kickstart had 92 mg of caffeine, but the volume was 473 mL, which results in a ratio of 0.19 mg caffeine/mL...same ratio. Why am I talking about this? I don't know really.

The boost comes in pretty quickly and it is not bad at all. I felt more pepped up within 10 minutes, but not so overly energetic that I couldn't focus on mental activities. The small amount of caffeine and sugar didn't make me want to get up and run around. I think the amounts were perfect for what I was doing. I didn't even feel jittery.

Unfortunately, since there is less caffeine than comparable energy drinks, the kick lasted for about an hour and ended without a crash. On the plus side since I had a few of these, I had another can and got the same boost for another hour. However, I felt a slight crash at the end of the second one.

Energy - 6/10...not much caffeine, but very clean kick without jitters

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Rockstar Organic Review


Well, here is something new from Rockstar with a completely different look and feel. When I was picking up a bunch of new energy drinks on my trip to Buffalo, I almost missed this one because the label just didn't register. The huge "ORGANIC" word on the side made me curious, so I picked up a can to explore...and then I saw the Rockstar logo! Yes! Another new energy drink to try.

Taste

I love the aroma! It is completely dominated by passion fruit with a blend of sweet and mellow mix of other tropical fruits and guarana. The taste is not bad, but a bit of a let down as I was expecting intense passion fruit and sweet tropical fruits, but what I got instead was earthy green coffee (which I don't truly mind), guarana and a hint of yerba mate (must be a byproduct from the green coffee and guarana blend).

Hmm, no tropical fruits in the flavor. There is some passion fruit in the finish which lingers well into the aftertaste providing a refreshing character, but there just isn't any of the typical tropical fruit flavor that I was expecting.

The cane sugar is a nice addition and though there are 46 grams of sugar in the can, it doesn't feel intensely sweet, nor is there any sticky sweetness or build up of it. The cane sugar provides a very distinct sweet note to the earthy "tropical" notes, which I personally liked.

I personally love the earthy and musky notes the green coffee beans and guarana add, but I highly doubt that consumers will like, especially since this is advertised as having an island fruit flavor and there really isn't any of that.

I see this as a "love-it" or "hate-it" product. I am in the "love-it" category because I do enjoy the earthy flavors of green coffee and guarana, and beverages with more of a subtle flavor. Also, I am a sucker for passion fruit and the aroma of Rockstar Organic is killer.

Energy

There are 160 mg of caffeine in the can. Note that the label says "80 mg per serving", but since there are 2 servings per can, that adds up to 160 mg total.

I started to feel the effects within 10 minutes. I felt more awake and even started to feel focused. Though there are 46 grams of sugar, I experienced no jitters which is probably due to the nature of the cane sugar, and I felt intensely focused for a good 30-40 minutes.

The energy kicked in gradually over the next 20 minutes and it felt very clean for the next 3 hours. There were no jitters, no heart racing, no desires to run around in circles burning energy. It was clean, like a high end "craft" energy drink. Everything ended without a crash too.

Overall, I found Rockstar Organic to be a supercharger version of Starbuck's Refreshers with its similar green coffee bean flavor and clean, but better, energy kick. I loved this taste, but I know that it will not appeal to everyone.

Scores:
Cost - $3.19 from a gas station in Buffalo
Taste - 8.8/10
Energy - 8.2/10

Overall - 17.2/20..."love-it" or "hate-it" kind of a drink with a very clean kick

Friday, April 17, 2015

High Brew Coffee


After having tried High Brew's Double Espresso on its own, I decided to try and review the rest of the line up all at once and lump my thoughts into a single post. I got all 4 cans (including the Double Espresso) from a Target near Buffalo for $2.49 each.

Salted Caramel

This flavor has a medium brown color and pours with a skinny, tan layer of foam. The aroma reminds me of praline ice cream and lacks any coffee notes. It is very enjoyable to have the can right below your nose when you are working on the computer as sweet notes waft upwards and each time you inhale, you get a hint of sweetness.

The taste starts off sweet with very light hints of caramel and milk. A semi-bitter coffee flavor comes in quickly after and becomes the dominant one for a brief moment before the coffee and caramel and milk all blend into a bitter and slightly raunchy blend of flavors that also picks up a sweetener note from the added stevia. Remnants of the blend linger well into the finish. I can attribute the majority of it to the coffee, some to the added milk which tends to give iced coffee (I know this isn't technically one) a rancid-like aftertaste and the stevia, which puts the final nail in the off-putting blend of flavors. The saltiness comes in at the very end, mid-way through the aftertaste.

I cannot believe I am saying (OK, writing) this, but I think this coffee would have benefited from a bit more sugar and some more milk...or cream. And forget the stevia. This is what makes the odd and bitter blend even worse.

On the plus side, the coffee is very smooth and very easy to drink. That means that you can get through the off-putting flavor and get to the caffeine center.

Taste - 5.2/10

Double Chocolate Mocha

This variety has a very nice medium to dark brown color, similar to what you might get in a chain coffee shop. Like with the Salted Caramel, this one smells like an ice cream - a vanilla and chocolate blend. Coffee aromas are surprisingly absent.

The taste starts off a little bland, but quick enough chocolate comes in, followed by a very subtle coffee flavor blended with milk and...blagh....stevia!!!! This flavor suffers from the same raunchy blend of flavors thanks to the stevia and the coffee turning slightly bitter. The milk doesn't help it either, but at least it doesn't truly affect the flavor until the aftertaste, which also carries the remains of the stevia, some chocolate ice cream and coffee.

Halfway through the can I think I got used to the raunchiness because it didn't seem to bother me so much and the aftertaste tasted just a little better. But still, I don't think that using stevia with these kinds of drinks is a smart thing to do and yes, once again, I have to say that a bit more milk and sugar wouldn't hurt.

Taste - 5.3/10

Mexican Vanilla

The Mexican Vanilla one has a very interesting spiced aroma that reminds me of German gingerbread cookies. The taste starts off with a nice, bold coffee punch with subtle notes of vanilla and some ginger(?). For a moment I thought the raunchy taste won't be present, but it is. As soon as the milk and stevia come in after the coffee, the combination just turns into an odd, bitter-sweetener-milky mess. Unlike the previous 2 flavors, the raunchiness is not as intense and goes away a little quicker, leaving the bold taste of coffee with subtle vanilla notes and just a bit of sweetener.

The aftertaste is coffee-forward with a trail of vanilla and a quickly diminishing sweetener. This is probably my favorite one of these three flavors, but I would still be hesitant to buy it again. I would stick to the Double Espresso.

Taste - 6/10

Energy

Each of these cans contains 139 mg of caffeine. The effects resemble having a cup of coffee in the morning and are similar for all flavors.

I consumed each flavor of High Brew first thing in the morning after waking up (I lied at the start, I didn't try them all at once...muahahaha), when my mind was still slightly asleep. I felt a jolt that started to quickly focus the mind within 15 minutes of starting to drink each can of High Brew. Within another 5 minutes I was feeling a bit jittery, but that feeling always lasted for a few minutes before giving way to a smooth flow of energy that lasted for about 2 hours without a crash at the end.

Overall, the High Brew flavors all offered a great boost in energy, but some just lacked the enjoyable flavor. Would I buy them again? Well, I would probably buy the Double Espresso for sure.

Energy - 7.7/10

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Monster Energy Ultra Sunrise


Monster Energy's Ultra Sunrise is one of the new energy drinks I picked up from the US on my most recent trip down there, but as it turned out, as of very recently Sunrise is also available in Canada. Both countries sell the drink for $3.19 to $3.49. I got mine for $3.19 from a gas station, but I also saw it going for as high as $3.49. However, with the exchange rate on the day I bought it, I actually ended up paying $4.01.

Taste

The aroma is absolutely fantastic and probably the best thing about my weekend morning which started at 6:30 am. It is a blend of fresh tangerines and oranges, which reminds me of Orangina or of freshly squeezed juice.

The taste is very similar with a very rich tangerine flavor all throughout and an orange/lime twist at the end. The flavor just seems so close to real for most parts that it is amazing. The only times it is compromised is when you get a taste of the sweeteners, which fortunately is not very strong with this energy drink. You get a very subtle hint while you are drinking it, which gets a little stronger and more dominant in the aftertaste, but the semi-sour tangerine flavors help keep it to a minimum. I also love the long lingering tangerine notes in the aftertaste.

Wow, I love this new Monster drink. This is definitely becoming my go-to energy drink since it is now sold in Canada as well.

Energy

There are 151 mg of caffeine in the can, which is slightly more than the older Ultra line up, but on par with the new ones that came out recently, like Citron. The effects are noticed within 10-15 minutes. I gradually (as gradually as you can over the course of 2-3 minutes) started to truly wake up and focus on the tasks at hand. Surprisingly I didn't feel jittery at all from this drink. I felt a little jittery when I drank the Citron one, but I got nothing from the Sunrise.

The caffeine kicked in 15-20 minutes later and I felt energized with productive energy the entire morning. I was working on a few things on my computer and I was focused and felt great for 2-3 hours. Mid to late morning I started to lose focus and needed a break. No crash here.

As I said earlier, this is now my go-to energy drink.

Scores:
Cost - $3.19
Taste - 9.5/10
Energy - 8.5/10

Overall - 18/20...yup, my new go-to energy drink

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Neuro Sleep Review


Apparently I had already tried and reviewed Neuro Sleep a few years ago but never got around to publish it. I stumbled across an old draft just as I was wrapping up my new review of Neuro Sleep. For kicks, I compared it to what I thought of the beverage a few years ago and things matched up quite nicely. How is that for consistency over the years?

I got the first bottle from a Meijer's in Michigan and the second one from a Target in Buffalo.

Taste

This is a pretty tasty drink which I consumed very quickly thanks to its lack of carbonation. The taste is a blend of a slightly tart tangerine flavours, mango and a bit of peaches. It is not very sweet so at the end of the bottle I didn't have the urge to cleanse my mouth with water, which I think is pretty important for a drink that is supposed to relax you and eventually help you fall asleep...or maybe it is a personal preference to not consume sweet things before bed.

Since there are only 35 calories there is a very obvious diet aftertaste which lingers for some time.

Performance

I started to feel the effects of the drink within 10 minutes of consuming almost all of it at once. At first I started to feel sleepy then my limbs started to get numb and heavy. Oh yeah. This is some strong stuff...at least for me. Within another 10 minutes I was headed for bed and was peacefully flipping through a magazine when my eyelids started to give up on me.

On the other hand, I might have been subconsciously very tired from the Christmas driving (this is obviously part of the first review since it is now April) and this was enough to push me over the edge and pass right out. Share your opinions on this below and let me know if you had ever tried Neuro Sleep and what the effects were.

Scores:
Cost - $2.39
Taste - 9/10
Performance - 9/10

Overall - 18/20...tasty and felt pretty strong